The Arrogance of Modernity in Full View

I’ve been dialoging with Wranger concerning my post on the death of Christopher Hitchens. It’s been a good debate but Wranger keeps coming back to his trump card, which is that we know so much more than those of the First Century. Here are his words:

My point is that any ten year old today, knows infinitely more about the natural order, and the universe, than anybody living in the First Century. If it’s arrogant to think that, then I’m arrogant.

This is one of the comments that seems like it’s a real trump card in the argument, because, we know so much more today than they did in the First Century. But alas, I beg to differ. I would say we know a lot less than they did in the First Century.

Wranger is arguing that the ten year old knows more about the natural order, but I bet most don’t know that Chicken McNuggets actually come from chickens. The 10 year olds  of today know nothing about real life because they have been so sheltered from it. They do not know how to raise chickens, kill chickens, clean chickens or cook them. They knew how to shear sheep, milk cows, make cheese, press grapes for wine, mill the wheat and everything that was involved with eating because they had to actually do it.

Our children today may know how to work a Gameboy or X-box, but when it comes to life and living, our children are helpless (excluding those who are raise on a farm). We think we are so smart because we have billions of facts right at our finger tips. But how much of it do we actually know? How many of us could actually rebuild our transmission if we needed to? How many of us could grow enough wheat in order to survive for the winter? How many of us would know the process and patience of making wine?

The people of the First Century knew what it meant to survive. They knew where food came from, how to grow it, process it, cook it and preserve it. While we may know facts about such things, and know that such things take place, could we actually do it?

They also knew about life as well. They knew where babies came from and the women had to band together in order to help one another deliver their children. There were no doctors to swoop in at the last moment and do all the work. There were no hospitals, so they really had to know what it took to have children.

They understood death as well. No morticians to come along and sanitize the process. They had to bury their own dead and did so quite often. They knew war, they knew real peace. They knew life at is basest form and knew how to survive. I wouldn’t give members of the Occupy Wall Street crowd 10 minutes in that culture. They have been taught “infinitely more about the natural order” and can’t seem to make a go of it in our culture today. The entire argument that we can learn nothing from previous cultures and men is a result of the arrogance of modernity. Those who have fallen for this arrogance look back on previous cultures and deduce they are nothing more than a bunch of backwood idiots because we are so far advance in our technology. I concede, we are much farther advanced technologically. But that doesn’t mean we are smart than the previous generations of men who lived on the earth. After all, the smarter man is not the one that uses fire, but the one who discovers fire.

The sad reality is that this arrogance is taught and cultivated in our schools today. Far too many fall for it. Simply because we have more information today doesn’t mean we know more, it doesn’t mean we are wiser, it doesn’t mean we are better off. If fact, given the number of people who have failed the test of godly wisdom, we are much worse off.

Wranger continued:

You still haven’t explained what it is about them, or what it is that they said, that makes you so eager to believe First Century Jews, rather than our overwhelming empirical scientific evidence.

That is simple to explain. What is it the First Century Jews knew? They may not have had empirical scientific evidence about DNA, but the ones I’m referring to knew something much greater than the mapping of the genome. They knew the One who created the genome. They knew the One who gave us science, and life, and breath, and the world in which we live. The knew the One that created us and put the stars, moon and sun in their place. They knew the One that gave the order we find in creation.

They also knew the Redeemer who came to deal ultimately with our greatest problem: sin and death. While we may be able to identify genes the lead to us sinning, we still cannot solve our sinful nature, our problems with death. We still face that judgment and science can do nothing to alleviate us of the problem. Just ask Christopher Hitchens.

Those men in the First Century who knew the Creator were also wise enough to tell us of the foolishness of mankind. The Apostle Paul wrote and warned us that those who sought knowledge, Greeks in his day, would find the truths of the gospel as complete foolishness. Listen to Paul’s words:

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The scientists and modern thinkers cans sit and ponder what fools we are who follow Christ all they want, but they offer us nothing to give us true and lasting hope. All of them still sin. All of them still die. All of them face judgment, yet, they want us to believe that they have the answers because they have mapped out the human genome? They want us to follow them into their theories of evolution just because they think they have evidence of evolution in genetics?

I tried to point out to Wranger that those who believe in evolution still do not have incontrovertible evidence for evolution. As I have said before, if there was evidence beyond a shadow of doubt, then we would celebrate the scientist who discovered the evidence with yearly parades. But in the end, all scientist can say is, “the evidence leads me to believe that evolution is a fact.” Which… is not science, but faith.

Even Stephen J. Gould, admitted that there was no evidence before he died when he presented his theory on punctuated equilibrium. In the introduction of his book, he stated that there wasn’t a shred of evidence, but that evolution was still a fact. He then went on to say that the missing link happened so quickly that there was no trace of it. In other words, he was coming back to what God has told us, that the created order was put together in six days… so quickly that there are no traces of it.

But alas, even Stephen J. Gould succumbed to death. He is no longer here to defend his punctuated equilibrium and the scientific community has moved on in their quest to rid the world of a Creator.

Wranger continues

And as for choosing science and DNA over the magical claims of First Century Bronze Age desert Jews, I will quote Christopher Hitchens;

“I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know anything like enough yet. That I haven’t understood enough, that I can’t know enough, that I’m always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way…take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way.”

That was the second time he made sure to mention that the Jews lived in the Bronze Age. That is the arrogance coming through loud and clear. It is as if he is saying, “Christopher Hitchens is by far, superior in intellect, knowledge, etc., than those idiots of the First Century. What could the possibly know?”

He then quotes Hitchens, who is saying he really doesn’t know enough yet… but is placing his faith and trust in the knowledge that will be known someday. In fact, I would have to say that Hitchens was seeking salvation through the form of knowledge, kind of like the Greeks in Paul’s day, who, would meet in the in the Areaopagus in ore to hear some new thing. They really didn’t want anything that was consequential in their lives, just something new to tickle their ears.

Yet, all the knowledge that Hitchens knew and hoped to know did not save him from the worst of fates: death without the hope of salvation. He might have known many philosophies or even some genetics. He might have known multiple theories on evolution. But He lacked knowing the One that created the heavens and the earth. He didn’t know the One who made him. He didn’t know the One that could have redeemed him from sin and death.

While I may not know all the theories of evolution that are currently floating about, I would much rather know Him who saves us from this body of death. I may not know how genetics works, or much about the human genome, but I do know the Savior and, more importantly, He knows me.

Wranger, I cannot answer you on a lot of scientific facts. But you have seen my answer. I would rather be known by and know Christ than be well thought of in the world academia, or science. Those two offer a lot of facts to be known, but nothing that answers the greatest problem we all face: sin, death and judgment. Without being known by Him, in a way that leads to salvation, all the theories, genetic maps, ponderings of how the world work are worthless. In fact, one of those men from the Bronze Age that you so belittle said something along those lines:

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

UPDATE: Via Neil’s Eternity Matters, Stand to Reason has an excellent piece on scientist who question evolution. Here is just a snippet:

You have no friends of religion here. These men are inside of the established scientific community, not outside of it. Yet each offers scientifically rigorous and compelling arguments against the idea that known natural processes are adequate to explain the biological complexity of our world.

Michael Behe is a cellular biologist with impeccable credentials. In his book Darwin’s Black Box, he shows that the irreducible complexity of life can’t be explained by Darwinian gradualism.

James Shapiro of the University of Chicago, a molecular biologist and a deeply committed evolutionist, made this candid remark in response to Behe’s work:

There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations. It is remarkable that Darwinism is accepted as a satisfactory explanation for such a vast subject–evolution–with so little rigorous examination of how well its basic theses work in illuminating specific instances of biological adaptation or diversity.  James Shapiro, “In the Details…What?,” National Review, September 19, 1996, pp. 62-65.

You can read the rest here. He also bring’s up Stephen J. Gould’s punctuated equilibrium as well, which truly demonstrates the problem that evolutionist are having in supporting their faith system. He summarizes the problem of the two camps by quoting Phillip Johnson:

Phillip Johnson has made a fair observation when he states, “If eminent experts say that evolution according to Gould is too confused to be worth bothering about, and others equally eminent say that evolution according to Dawkins rests on unsubstantiated assertions and counterfactual claims, the public can hardly be blamed for suspecting that grand-scale evolution may rest on something less impressive than rock-solid, unimpeachable fact.”


3 thoughts on “The Arrogance of Modernity in Full View

  1. I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the years. I’ve read enough history and enough ancient literature to know that we moderns actually know very little. We have access to a great deal of information, but information is not knowledge. Being able to look something up is not the same as knowing something.

    A few things the ancients would have *known* (off the top of their head) that we do not:
    Name every person who lives within 2000 feet of your home.
    What do they do?
    Where did they come from?
    What is their family history?
    What is your family history?
    When was the last new moon?
    When is the next?
    Navigation by the stars.
    What day will we plant?
    What day will we harvest?
    How much rain did we have last year?
    When and how much was the last rain fall? (date)
    How to raise and care for 10 kinds of livestock.
    How to butcher and store 10 kinds of livestock.
    Name all of the constellations, categorized by season.
    How to set a broken limb.
    How to make clothes.
    How to make candles.
    Which local wild plants are edible.
    Which local wild plants are medicinal.

    And this list just scratches the surface. To think that we are smarter than the ancients is not as much arrogance as just plain foolishness. “Chronological snobbery,” as C.S. Lewis put it.

    We do have a different and larger data set than the ancients, but we have far less knowledge.


    • Very good points. It seems that we have both given this some thought. I meant to point out that what many of our 10 year olds know today is what they have been spoon fed by the liberal establishment, and that what the actually “know” is very little at all.


  2. All we know today is “foolishness to GOD” for our very knowledge keeps us from HIM. We in our intelligence miss the profound fact that GOD is and that GOD was and that GOD will always be and that we will one day die and be held accountable for our lives. We will live forever but where- with satan in hell if we reject GOD’s way to heaven or in heaven with the LORD JESUS CHRIST because of HIS mercy and HIS shed blood- not because of our intelligence but only because of JESUS. It is because JESUS + nothing = life with JESUS now and forever.


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